When we were TTC, I used to imagine that birth was the “end” of the story. It was the “Happily Ever After,” I longed for. Perhaps birth was the end to my “infertility” story. However, birth is never the end of a story, rather, it’s always the beginning of another story. And sometimes, I think those of us who have waited to enter motherhood, aren’t always prepared for the season when it does finally happen. We’ve spent months and years learning our bodies to get pregnant, but after the baby is born, we sometimes find we don’t really know how to care for this new baby, or ourselves. It’s in this new season where we have to humbly discover God and ourselves, for what feels like the first time.
Whether you find yourself in a season of waiting to enter motherhood, or feel that your hands are entirely full of babies, diapers, dishes, and sleepless nights–I hope this post encourages you, and shows you how to love both yourself and others in this season. While I’ve written many posts about how to find hope during infertility, and TTC, I don’t always share (enough) about those first fragile days and months of motherhood, and the tender care new moms need to truly thrive.
Today, I’m happy to welcome author Mary Kate Brown to share with us “3 Ways to Nuture a New Mom,” and also a wonderful new book that’s come out just for moms who find themselves in this brand new (often wild) world of motherhood.
3 Ways to Nurture a New Mom
By: Mary Kate Brown
The moment she was born, I was born.
In those final moments of labor when I was pushing—surrounded by nurses, legs warm and
heavy from anesthesia, bright lights in my face—I realized this was it. She was coming. This
moment was the threshold between the life I was familiar with and the one I had longed to live
for years. Suddenly, she was in my arms, on my chest; squinty-eyed and grappling for some
familiarity in her bright new world. Suddenly, there I was: Mama. Beholding the very one who
made me so.
She was new, and so was I; we both had things to learn. I sat uncomfortably in my hospital bed
dutifully attending to an endless cycle of syringe-feeding, nursing, expressing, and pumping.
Patiently and stubbornly, I struggled through the pain of a sore back and postpartum cramping
while learning how to nurse my baby who could not yet latch. I began to understand the cost of
becoming someone’s mama. For nine months her body relied on me for life, and she’d continue
to do so for many more.
Though sleep-deprived, I couldn’t sleep, because I didn’t want to miss a moment of her.
Though healing from birth, I was already anticipating how I could protect her heart from hurt.
Though struggling with my own postpartum pains and struggles, I was stubbornly concerned about
whether or not she was eating enough.
Though I was a grown, adult woman with a child of her own, suddenly I was a brand new
I was someone’s mama, trying to get up on my own two feet, and solely motivated by love. At no other time did this reality weigh on me so heavily as in those early weeks following the birth of my first child. After she came into our lives, each day brought new firsts.
My husband and I lived for each moment, completely enamored simply by who she was. She was beautiful.
Every breath was wonder-filled. Every sleepy grin was awe-worthy. Every small stir was
Few experiences in life are as profound as welcoming your first child into the world. As life-
changing as it is to bring a new baby home, it’s equally as life-changing to bear the title and role
of mama. As new moms we anticipate the endless nurturing and patience required of us as we
raise our new sweet babes. But often we fail to extend the same nurturing and patience to
ourselves after stepping into this life-changing role.
Moms need nurturing too.
Whether a first-time mama or seasoned pro, learning to care of ourselves as we selflessly care
for our children is not only important, it’s vital. Here are three important things to remember
about nurturing yourself as a new mama when living in the blur of newborn days:
1. Rest is restorative. The common advice of “sleep when the baby sleeps” is often easier said
than done in the face of laundry piles and various family needs. Perhaps sleeping every time the
baby sleeps isn’t always feasible, but that doesn’t mean prioritizing rest is impossible. When we
begin to view sleep as a necessary part of our body’s healing, we can begin to shed any guilt
associated with taking a nap instead of sweeping the kitchen on Wednesday at 4pm. Birth is an
event all new moms need to heal from, and sleep is the most powerful mechanism by which our
bodies and brains begin to restore themselves. When we consistently choose productivity over
rest in these early weeks, it’s often to the detriment of the healing our bodies are trying to do.
For a simple way to assist your body in proper sleep hormone production, be intentional about
exposing your eyes and skin to sunlight for about 15 minutes first thing upon waking, and limit
exposure to blue light after sunset.
2. Food is fuel. Pregnancy is no cake-walk, and the stamina required of new mothers
postpartum is incredible. Feeding ourselves can easily fall to the very bottom of the priority list
as we tend to the dietary needs of our ravenous newborns (cluster feeding, anyone?). Whatever
food choices we make for our families, it’s vital to view the food we eat as the very fuel we need
to care for them. Making simple, nutrient dense food choices does not have to be an
extravagant affair. Instead of opting for quick open-and-go items loaded with sugar and
synthetic vitamins, opt for the chicken breasts shredded in the crock pot that you can throw in
the fridge to use for tacos, salads, or soup. Eating isn’t necessary just to keep our appetites
satiated, but to provide the nutrients our bodies need to heal and keep us healthy.
3. Community is key. As mothers living in the time and culture we do, we’re bombarded with
messaging that makes us feel as though we should be able to handle all of the things solo.
Never in the history of mothers, would our ancestors have been expected to raise their
child(ren) within the four walls of their own homes, with very minimal outside help from
neighbors, family, and friends. Our ancestors lived communally, and many of us grew up in a
culture that exalted the model of the nuclear family; where moms “do it all”. We can’t do it all. By
nature we’re designed to live life in community. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to not do all
the things. It’s okay to acknowledge our capacity for commitments, house work, or family
expectations. Making the space to nurture meaningful relationships outside of our nuclear
families isn’t a distraction from our mothering, but a way to nurture it.
[This blog post is inspired by “The Making of a Mama” by Mary Kate Brown; this is an essay in
Strong, Brave & Beautiful: Stories of Hope for Moms in the Weeds by writers from
Mary Kate and her husband Brian are high-school sweethearts who
recently left their lifelong home in the Chicago suburbs for a rural property in Western Michigan.
Together they homeschool their three daughters, and are making plans for turning their new
property into a small-scale homestead. After overcoming numerous health challenges due to
autoimmunity, Mary Kate is passionate about helping others find healing and wholeness. She
leads an online group teaching the basics of an anti-inflammatory diet, and inspires others to
incorporate simple, nourishing, real-food recipes in their own homes. In addition to her work
with Kindred Mom, Mary Kate works on the growth team at hope*writers helping to champion
the words of other writers. She also writes online at www.marykateb.com (formerly Choosing
Grace Blog), and you can catch up with her on Instagram @choosinggraceblog .
And a New Book! –>
If you are pregnant, and about to enter motherhood for the first time, or even the second, or third, I want to invite you to purchase (as a gift for yourself) this new book, “Strong, Brave, and Beautiful: Stories of Hope for Moms in the Weeds” by the KindredMom.com team, and featuring Mary Kate Brown.
I remember my first days of motherhood, and how desperately I needed to hear from other moms. I needed to hear about their fatigue, failures and foibles. I needed a little dose of humanity, and humor, and just to know–yeah, this is hard, but holy work. You will find all of that in this book. It would also make a great gift for any pregnant friends or new moms in your life. If you have a friend or family member who just gave birth, rather than buying a baby outfit, consider giving this as a gift for the new mama. You could put it in a cute little gift basket, with maybe some coffee, or tea, and a cute bow. I know I would have loved to recieve something like this–and would enjoy it still today. (I know it’s easy to believe that most moms have it all together, but the vast majority, feel completly exhausted, often discouraged, and are desperate for just a bit of encouragement and hope.) So, be one of those hope-givers this holidy season and beyond. Or, simply get one for yourself as you step into this season as a woman who is strong, brave, and beautiful.
This book is now available on Kindred Mom or on Amazon. Get yours today, and one for a friend as a Christmas gift!
For more motherhood encouragement, check out the Kindred Mom website, Kindred Mom on Instagram, or some of my posts in the Motherhood catergory here on my blog! This post “Am I Enough?” is also greatly encouraging for the weary mom.